Global Health

"If you are a woman who is pregnant living in the U.S., there's one really important thing you need to know: You shouldn't go to a place that has Zika spreading."

What We Know So Far About Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus

19 hours ago

A patient acquired Zika virus in the U.S. through sex with a person who had traveled to a place where the virus is circulating, Dallas County, Texas, health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

This is not the first time that the virus has been sexually transmitted, and it most likely isn't the first time it's been sexually transmitted in the U.S.

Health officials have confirmed that someone in Dallas County, Texas, contracted the Zika virus through sexual contact.

It's the first U.S. case related to the recent Western Hemisphere outbreak to be acquired through sex. Until now, experts have focused on transmission of the virus through mosquito bites.

Dallas County Health and Human Services says the patient, who remains anonymous, became infected after having sexual contact with someone who was ill and had returned from a country where the Zika virus is present.

How much harm can the Zika virus do?

That's the question that is bedeviling researchers in Brazil. It's not just the matter of a possible link to brain damage in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus during pregnancy. There have also been suspected cases of adult patients who suffered temporary hearing loss.

Researchers are trying to make sense of it all, and yet they lack very basic information. Even the number of cases and the degree to which it has spread are unknown.

The updated childhood immunization schedule, released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes a couple tweaks to vaccine recommendations for older children and teens.

One officially moves the recommendation for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine a few years earlier for children with a history of sexual abuse and adds a version of the HPV vaccine that protects against nine strains of the virus. Another offers all older teens the option of a meningitis vaccine previously recommended only for high-risk children.

The World Health Organization announced Monday a public health emergency. The cause for alarm is the cluster of birth defects among babies born to mothers infected with the Zika virus, which has spread rapidly through Brazil and much of Latin America since 2015.

If the advice to eat more fiber seems easy to ignore, you're not alone. Most Americans don't get the 25 to 38 grams a day that's recommended, depending on age and gender.

But if you're skimping on fiber, the health stakes are high, especially if you're a teenage girl.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics concludes that eating lots of fiber-rich foods during high school years may significantly reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

Don't get bitten by mosquitoes.

That's the advice offered to the public in virtually every article on the rapidly spreading, mosquito-borne Zika virus.

There's no arguing with the advice. Zika, once considered a relatively mild flu-like illness, has now been linked to a surge in severe birth defects in Brazil and possibly to cases of paralysis.

But anyone who is a mosquito magnet must be asking: Can humans really keep the bloodsucking bugs at bay?

Before the Zika virus outbreak, which appears to be associated with serious birth defects in babies in Brazil, there was rubella, also known as German measles, which terrified the pregnant women of my mother's generation.

David Nogueras / KPLU

If you’ve been putting off buying health insurance to meet the terms of the Affordable Care Act, you have until Sunday night to select a plan.

Even if you have coverage, experts say open enrollment is the golden opportunity to make sure you have the best plan for your situation.

Pregnant women and new mothers need more attention when it comes to screening for depression, according to recommendations issued Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

That came as part of the panel's recommendation that all adults should be screened, in a situation where they can be provided treatment or get a referral if they are clinically depressed.

The World Health Organization says it expects the Zika virus to spread to every country in the Western Hemisphere except Canada.

It says the virus has already "spread to 21 countries and territories of the Americas."

"Canada is off the list simply because it's too cold for the type of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus," NPR's Jason Beaubien reports to our Newscast unit.

To be a girl in the Viwandani slum of Nairobi, Kenya, means sleeping in a one-room shack with as many as eight members of your family. It means convincing your parents that your monthly school fees are worth struggling to save for. It means scrounging for rags or old mattress stuffing to fashion a sanitary pad so you can go to school during that time of the month.

And for too many, it means ignorance about reproductive health.

Steve Miller has some customers on offer. Millions of them in fact.

The chief medical officer at Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager in the U.S., has been essentially auctioning off his 80 million customers to the drug companies that will give him the best deal.

"Who wants my market share?" Miller says. "Whoever will give me the best price, I will reward you with an enormous amount of market share."

Last Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the end to two horrific years of the West African Ebola epidemic.

Later on the same day, the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone announced that a patient with Ebola died in the Tonkilli region of that country.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the new case in Sierra Leone was not that it occurred so soon after WHO's proclamation, but that Ebola wasn't diagnosed until after the patient died.

If you fall off a curb, bop your head and go to the ER to make sure you're OK, there's a good chance you'll be trundled off for a CT scan.

That might sound comforting, but people with injuries minor enough that they get sent home are increasingly being given computed tomography scans, a study finds. That's despite efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of CTs, which use radiation and increase the lifetime risk of cancer.

When Cathy Fields was in her late 50s, she noticed she was having trouble following conversations with friends.

"I could sense something was wrong with me," she says. "I couldn't focus. I could not follow."

Fields was worried she had suffered a stroke or was showing signs of early dementia. Instead she found out she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

President Obama took a moment in his final State of the Union Address Tuesday to voice optimism that people have the power to bring an end to the worldwide menace of malaria.

"Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria — something I'll be pushing this Congress to fund this year," Obama said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's first stab at offering nutrition advice came in 1894, when W. O. Atwater, a chemist and pioneering nutrition investigator for the agency, published this warning in a Farmer's Bulletin:

"Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced. ... The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear..."

People who take certain popular medicines for heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux may want to proceed more cautiously, researchers reported Monday.

The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), appear to significantly elevate the chances of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a study involving more than 250,000 people.

More men are getting colonoscopies to screen for cancer since the Affordable Care Act reduced how much Medicare beneficiaries pay out of pocket for the preventive tests, a recent study found. The change, however, didn't affect women's rates.

No one predicted the Ebola epidemic before it burst forth in 2014 and continued to claim lives throughout 2015. And so, as 2016 begins, readers might well wonder what biological culprits — parasites, bacteria and viruses — are lurking out there, ready to unleash another outbreak of something terrible on an unsuspecting world.

We put the question to four infectious disease experts: What are your best educated guesses about the big global health stories in 2016?

There's finally some good news about childhood asthma in the United States: After rising for decades, the number of children with the breathing disorder has finally stopped increasing and may have started falling, according to a government analysis.

"That was a big surprise," says Lara Akinbami of the National Center for Health Statistics. "We were expecting the increase to kind of continue. But in fact we saw the opposite."

The world has made a big commitment in recent years to treat and prevent infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. But another threat to global health is on the rise: Cancer rates are going up in the developing world.

More people who are overweight or obese may get screened for diabetes under guidelines released Tuesday by a panel of prevention experts. As a result, insured people whose blood sugar is higher than normal now can be referred to nutrition and exercise counseling without paying anything out of pocket for it.

"Obesity and overweight have been risk factors all along for diabetes," says Dr. Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "But we haven't had guidelines that actually said, 'Screen those folks.'"

This week, the World Health Organization is sending a blunt message to Ukraine: declare a state of emergency.

The reason: two children in Southwestern Ukraine were diagnosed with polio in September.

Even two cases of polio is a concern, especially since these are the first cases of the virus in Europe in five years.

It's 11 at night in a busy commercial section of Chennai, a city of nearly 5 million in Southern India. All around me people are sleeping in the open air. Men are curled up in the back of rickshaw wagons. Entire families camp out in shelters made of cardboard and tarp. A woman in a blue sari smiles and waves for me to come over.

She tells me her name is Anjalai — like some in this part of India, she goes by only one name — and says she's got the most basic setup: a woven blue mat laid out on a patch of dirt by the side of the street.

Almost 20 percent of the people in low-income communities who die of colon cancer could have been saved with early screening. And those premature deaths take a toll on communities that can least bear it.

Lower-income communities in the United States face $6.4 billion in lost wages and productivity because of premature deaths due to colon cancer, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five years ago, Congress promised an overhaul of the nation's food safety system, passing the Food Safety Modernization Act.

It took much longer than expected, but the Food and Drug Administration has now released the centerpiece — or at least, the most contested — part of that overhaul. These are rules that cover farmers who grow fresh produce, as well as food importers.

They're Calling This Vaccine A 'Stunning Success'

Nov 10, 2015

A newly developed vaccine is on track to conquer a disease that, in recent years, has killed, deafened or caused brain damage in tens of thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2010, 220 million people have been vaccinated against meningitis A in what's called the "meningitis belt," 26 countries stretching from Senegal and Mauritania to Ethiopia and Kenya.

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